Tipping: 5 Reasons Why You Should Not Expect a Tip

This past fall, my girlfriend and I took a road trip to Disneyland. She’d never been (insert gasp) and I hadn’t been as an adult. Let the frivolity commence. During our adventure, one of our stops really made me stop and think about how tips have now become expected. While at Storytellers Café, a part of the Disney Grand Californian Hotel, we had a whirlwind of servers (only saw ours at the beginning and at the end) and received a less than remarkable experience only to be presented with a card in our bill fold explaining the way tipping worked, and how much gratuity is in the United States. Sorry, what? Huh? Come again?

Tipping isn’t an automatic.

As I’ve mentioned before, I lived in the service industry world a long, long, tear, long time (12 years) and depended on those tips. So, I feel I can throw this question back at those gratuity-expectant servers: “Did you do anything to deserve a tip?”

Here are a couple of reasons you shouldn’t get your 15%-20% (automatic for parties of 8 or more) gratuity:

1)   You didn’t add to the experience.

From the moment I walked through your doors to the moment I leave, can you say you in any way made my experience better? Just doing your job doesn’t count. For example: If your job is to make a sandwich and you do that, you didn’t improve my experience. If your job is to tell me about your product, you didn’t improve my experience. If you smiled…sorry, that’s the bare minimum of making it all better.

2)   You didn’t engage in any way.

Did you make eye contact with me when you did your quality check (coming back to a table to ask if you’re enjoying your meal)? It doesn’t happen as often as you’d think. Did you try to connect to me on a human-level rather than just an exchange of goods and services? If the answer is no…no tip for you.

3)   You aren’t present.

We all have bad days. We all have other things going on in our lives besides the 8ish hours a day we work. Or the generally 6ish hours servers work. Customers completely understand that. But if you’re day dreaming or chatting it up with other co-workers instead of catching the eye of a customer trying to get your attention and some service, you’re not “present.”  You’re “presently” wasting your employers and your customer’s time.

4)   You can’t be bothered.

The customer isn’t there to ruin your day, cause you grief or generally put a crimp in your style, they just want you to at least do your job. You may think that other thing you’re doing is pretty important but if it doesn’t involve getting me a drink, food or helping another customer…it isn’t. How many times have you talked to staff and it seemed like you were bothering them? Sorry about that…oh and yeah, no tip.

5)   You are part of the problem, not the solution.

When a guest comes into your store, they’re looking to have a problem solved. They’re hungry, feel caffeine-deprived, want to get out of the house, etc. Any number of things are not working for them so they want your product or service to make it all better. Are you getting in the way of that? Is your attitude or lack of interest in your job stopping the customer experience from being a good one?  Forget about that grat.

This Top 5 is full of “Didn’t…aren’t…can’t.” Aim for “did, are and can.” Tips are a reflection of added value. Your work can’t just be about order-taking but rather how you left your customer feeling after you engaged with them.

What are actions that do inspire tippy?



  • John Hoffman

    Agreed! A TIP is to be earned and not expected. The hourly wage, though perhaps miserly, is what is earned for merely performing the requirements of the job. Visible ‘hustle’ and being ‘present’ is key. A server enjoying a few moments chatting with friendly customers is great, but not if I’m holding an empty coffee cup or in need of condiments. 
    The standard 15% is a benchmark, and a servers actions can just as easily reduce it as earn or even increase it. 

    • Thanks for the comment John. It’s true, the actions of a server should directly connect to the size of their tip. It’s about understanding your table and doing what they want/need.

      • Because we are all mind-readers, especially when we are very busy. ‘Visible hustle’ (haha) and being ‘present’ irritates many customers, and sometimes they use it as a reason NOT to tip.

  • This is some bullshit right here.  All of these ‘reasons’ just sound like an excuse for people to not tip because they don’t feel like it.  I don’t tip when I get crappy service, period.  Not because of some nit-picking matrix of unrealistic expectations.  Sometimes I want to be left alone when I eat my lunch and don’t want little miss cheery piping up.  For that, I will give a tip.

    • Don’t hold back Robert. It may not have come across here but I firmly believe in tipping. It’s part of the service industry and I was the first person to be bothered if I got stiffed. Crappy tips from terrible customers is another blog post entirely. My issue is with those servers that feel just by dropping my food off or showing up, they deserve their tip. If you want to be left alone while you eat, then a good server should be able to read the table and know that.
      Thanks for the comment.

    • Don’t hold back, Robert. 

  • being a server at a big, family restaurant chain, we have to wow our guests all the time via conversation, eye contact, friendly demeanor, etc.., especially if kids are present. Ignoring a child and their cuteness is a huge no-no. However, the constant problem I find (my coworkers as well) are the family of 5,6 (or more, because we are famous for taking reservations of large parties) people that come in, order appetizers, order large and expensive entrees, consume alcohol and then order dessert, receive great service, yet still proceed to tip 10%, if that, on an large chunk of my sales for the evening. 
    To make matters worse, our company does not believe in automatic gratuity on large parties (8 or more)…so for me to serve a large table for 2-3 hours, make connections with those people, help them celebrate a birthday,graduation,anniversary,etc.. have them rack up a 500$ bill, and only receive a 10% tip???…no thank you!! AS WELL, people(customers who have never worked in the service industry) do not know/realize that the 50 dollars you are giving me does not go into my pocket…there is such a thing called a “tip out”…so really, depending on your establishment, I am only going to be keeping ~44$ of that 50$ anyway.
    I am not trying to be greedy but thats bullsh**.It’s times like these, which unfortunately happen more often than you think, that I pray for the day automatic gratuity shows up.

    • I’m with you, I’ve worked at places like that. People that come to eat at restaurants like yours don’t understand that each server has to tip out on EVERY table– usually about 8 to 10 percent– which means that you will pay out of pocket for tables that tip you less than what you have to tip out. I have paid, out of pocket, more times than I care to remember , for cheap people who get impeccable service for the entirety of their meal, but don’t get their dessert fast enough— And they stiffed me. It sucks. I HATE working at places that have crayons/ children’s menus– It’s always a bad sign.
      Go to work in a bar. WAY less hassle. Any restaurant worth its weight will add an auto-grat onto a table of eight or more. It’s their way of taking care of the servers (who they are not paying properly anyway).
      I am a FANTASTIC server. That’s why I left food service and went to work in a bar. You make more money, and have more pull. DO IT.

  • Where did you do your 12-year stint in the service industry? The Olive Garden? Fuck working at a place like that. I worked in high-end food service for YEARS. I hated every second of it. Licking peoples’ asses (and getting my ass slapped by uppity new-money businessmen) for minimum wage plus ten percent (if that) on a five-hundred dollar bill? No thank you. Clearly the places that you worked at were large chain-type restaurants. The higher-end you get restaurant-wise, the more subtle the service should be. No one wants to go out for a four hundred dollar meal and have someone hopping around the table every two seconds saying, “Hi! I’m Melissa! I’ll be your server tonight!!!! I love working here! Would you like a top-up? YAY!!!”. Now I work at a shabby bar where I– a.) am a union member, and therefore have health benefits, etc., b.) make more money than I EVER did serving food whilst entertaining other peoples’ slimy, whining offspring, and c.) tell people to suck if they act like jerks (THAT feels good, let me tell you).

    As a service industry worker, I ONLY don’t tip when someone is pointedly rude to me. You, original poster, sound like you resembled one of the servers from Chotchkie’s (a la Office Space… you know– “I’m wearing more pieces of flare than you”–). I hate servers like that. They are irritating and definitely, DEFINITELY trying too hard at what they do– Which just comes off looking pathetic, and ruins my meal. How exactly is someone going to “add to the experience” at Denny’s? Maybe I am eating at Denny’s because I don’t want to be “engaged”…

    You also sound like a cheap bastard (of the highest degree– you used to DO THIS JOB), and you are encouraging other cheap bastards to join you in this. Perhaps you are also a part of the problem.

    • Thanks for jumping to conclusions and speculating Holly. And truthfully, it doesn’t matter where you work (sounds like even working at a high-end restaurant isn’t any better than a lower one), waiters don’t deserve tips for showing up. They deserve it by adding and facilitating the experience. From fine dining to Denny’s, a great server will read the table and engage as necessary. Sorry if you thought I’m looking for a server that’s all over me while I eat, wanting to talk. I wasn’t that server and I sure as hell don’t want them to serve me.
      FYI – Nope, I worked at medium to higher end restaurants. And in that time, I worked and earned decent tips but I never expected them.
      Thanks for your comment though.
      “Ass slapped by uppity new-money businessmen” could definitely be another post.

      • Really? You didn’t expect tips from your tables at the restaurants that you worked at? There are two types of servers that I have EVER served (and I’ve been a server for over ten years)– The ones who excuse nothing, and the ones who excuse everything. You, sir, are the former. I didn’t jump to conclusions. You clearly stated that if you do not get what YOU (underlined) deem to be excellent service, (and I quote) there’s “no tip for you”– which makes you an asshole, considering that you’ve done that job for a living. 
        I’ve worked with people like you– They leave the industry, or advance to management, and forget what it’s like to ACTUALLY DO THE JOB. Sad. 
        I’m sure that you were never overjoyed to leave work after a six-to-eight-hour shift with twenty bucks. I’m also sure that it has  probably happened to you, even though you most likely worked your ass off that day. Don’t be a jerk– Remember where you used to be. This whole thread is a general piss-off to me, and every server that I work with (I showed it to them all this evening at work). 
        BTW– I was working in Calgary– hence the new-money ass slapping.

        • I expected a tip from every table I ever served, of course. But I also worked for it rather than just assuming if I show up I should get one. Often times, I’d remove the auto-grat from parties and end up getting tipped better than the 15% I was guaranteed.
          If I come off as a jerk, I apologize. I’m just tired of the feeling of entitlement from servers when all they did was pick up my food, drop off my food, clear plate, repeat…and that happens in every level of restaurant.
          Servers work in the industry for the opportunity to make decent money…but your success should be in your hands of the server. Good tips = good server. Crappy tips = well, you know.

          There are a lot of great servers out there. Most are. Sounds like you might be one of them. And I usually do get great service and I tip more than customary because of those experiences. But from those same experiences, I know when a server is just “showing up.”

          Thanks for this discussion. This is a really emotional topic for a lot of people.

        • I don’t believe in tipping at all in Canada… you make at least $9.40 as hour as waitresses in the states can make $2 an hour… what right do you have to complain about tips? And when waitresses expect a tip from me, I am not going to give it. I don’t care what some high school drop out thinks of me. And it does not affect my opinion at all of a man if he doesn’t tip. Given your career choise though I can see how you would want to make sure a man has a lot of extra money to spend on you.

      • to be honest with you it sounds like you want someone to give you a reach around while asking your child what colour selection of crayons it wanted, with a huge, I just got fucked and liked it smile. 

    • Learn to type and get a better job.. NO tip for you

      WHY should you get a tip based on the bill? is a lobster harder to serve then a burger?

  • hos·pi·tal·i·ty[hos-pi-tal-i-tee] noun, plural -ties.
    1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.
    2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.

    When a hospitality industry worker doesn’t live up to the definition of the word hospitality, they lose my gratuity.

    gra·tu·i·ty[gruh-too-i-tee, -tyoo-] noun, plural -ties.
    1. a gift of money, over and above payment due for service, as to a waiter or bellhop; tip.

    Great piece Russel! Thanks!

  • Kristal_march

    I used to work for a family restaurant, somewhat like denny’s, and we would do back flips for our tables for next to nothing. We would sing tidiculous birthday songs, bring free sundays, you name it and be lucky to gey 8%. It was always so disappointing. The worst was that we had to tip out around 4% off our gross sales for the night. We would get a 100 dollar bill, get tipped 5-8 bucks and then have to give 4 in tip out. There were actually times when coming to work cost us money if tips were brutal or the church crowd let out and swarmed us. I had one lady once give me two dollars for her tables 85 dollar bill, she said ” i know u have to give part of your tips away each night, so just slip this in your apron and keep it all to yourself. ” she then proceeded to wink at me, i almost died, thats not how tip out works lady. We tip out based on our sales, not how much you give us. So if you dont tip because you cant afgord it, dont eat out, cuz now i am paying out of my pocket for you yo eat and i certainly dont work here because i am wealthy.

  • In an ideal world tips would be given for exactly the reasons you have given. However as a server who makes 2.63 an hour a guest who doesn’t tip essentially is taking money from me. That is how it works now, you get service so you tip if you cant tip on the meal you cant afford to eat out and you pay your server for the service. Did they greet you and get your drinks? did they bring you the correct food ? was it hot? was it good? did they make sure you were enjoying it? This is our job and even if it isnt perfect everytime you have to be understanding as a guest and tip because that is how it is set up now. If I made 8.50 sure dont tip but as long as your food is cheaper because my restaurant is keeping labor costs down by paying me 2.63 you better tip me at least ten percent because I did my job

    • I love when people always explain to me how they are too poor to tip but they will order the most expensive thing on the menu. Meanwhile you will be lucky to have enough money to keep you in wonder bread and KD , let alone go out to drink and eat. 

    • Your choice to be a waitress… enough said.. don’t cry about the wage that you make when that is your choice of career. It’s like a car salesman complaining they work on commission.

  • Angela Rafuse

    Rudeness all around for making a suggestion on how to tip. For decades, many cultures who visit Canada don’t tip; – it’s there custom of which we must respect. Only when they ask, should we oblige with a recommendation of discretionary gratuities.
    While service people are dependant on gratuities, a tip is a priviliege based on outstanding service. I have never been a fan of mandatory gratuities unless pre arranged. Recently I had a dinner at a small boutique style hotel bar and restaurant that has been redone and currently undergoing more renovation. I was very disturbed to have a mandatory gratuity added to our 4 separate cheques for 2 without notice. Service is unique and perceptive to each person’s expectations and the level of gratuity should always be based on your service experiences.

    • The only people who are offended by an auto-grat are people who were not going to tip that amount to begin with.

      • Simply not true.  I tend to tip well but if there is an auto-grat, I won’t go to the establishment.  Tipping is up to the person giving, not receiving.  It’s a custom that should be done with.  From what I am reading in this comment section, many servers seem to have an entitlement attitude.  Sad. 

      • A tip is “to insure prompt service”. The very point of the tip is thus defeated with auto-grat. Second I don’t believe in tips in the first place. It is not my job to pay for a company’s labor costs. Pay the servers minimum wage and add the cost of that to the food. If they don’t preform their job correctly fire them.

  • Far too many people are taking this opportunity to complain about current/previous server jobs. Russel outlined many valid points, it’s a shame most are missing the point of the article. I agree 100% with what Russel has said in the article. I”m happy to tip for great service, but the bare minimum doesn’t cut it.

    If you are unhappy with your job, find a new one. That’s what I did 🙂

    • People always remember the cheap dink that made them pay out of pocket cause they are used to being treated like a little princess. Get over it Polly Pussy Panties, people that have an attitude like that have most likely had everything handed to them every where they go. Nothing worst than people thinking that they are some sort of Suburban Royalty or something. Get over yourselves.

  • It’s entertaining and disconcerting, all at once, to read the reactions and comments to Russel’s post above. I worked in the hospitality industry for 12 years as a busser, as a server, and as a bartender. I know both sides of the pass, well. It was always a two way street: a crappy patron (and there are too many, sadly) can ruin a server’s night (for many a reason, including tip); just as a crappy server (and they seem to be fewer and farther between thankfully) can ruin a patron’s night.

    I’m not clear on where Russ said, above, don’t tip. Nowhere from what I read. There’s no secret code in his post, no magic word that infers “don’t tip”. What it does say, and anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional, is tipping isn’t a right. If you’re a crappy server, don’t expect to be compensated by your tables for gracing them with your presence. If you’re a good, or even great server you’re going to reap the fruits of your labour, your attitude and your personality almost all the time (crappy patrons notwithstanding).

    I’ve never been to an establishment, in North America, that had a sign for patrons saying “You Must Tip”. Thus, as Russel says it isn’t a right, you earn it!

    • “Did you try to connect to me on a human-level rather than just an exchange of goods and services? If the answer is no…no tip for you.”If you don’t tip the first time, that’s your own cheap deal.
      If you continue to not tip, don’t bitch when you get bad service/cold food/snotty servers. Sorry, cheap guy, that’s the way it is. Also, it NEVER impresses girls when you take them out and then don’t tip. (Which I am sure that you have done and/or are presently doing.). Ugh, I would NEVER be able to date a cheap man.

      • Holly, I’m not sure whether you actually read the post all the way through. I think Russel is passed the point of trying to “impress” his girl, they are at Disneyland for goodness sake! It’s clear the server did not ADD to the experience in any way, why she he tip?

  • What a loser conversation, I have been cooking for 20+ years and waiters are absolutely undeserving of 20% plus gratuities. Plate carriers by trade are unskilled laborers.  I don’t tip the gardener who maintains my lawn, or the post office cashier, or the grocery bagger at the market or the guy that replaces my tires at COSTCO. Plate carrying is a job that can be mastered by a mentally disadvantaged person in less than a day.

    It is not my responsibility to pay the salary of a restaurant’s employee. If I pay $38 for a 5oz seabass or $42 for a steak, it is incumbent upon the owner or the establishment to provide for the staff. There is such an unfair disparity between the salary of the cooks/chefs…a position which requires both skill and hard work. A waiter that shows up to work at 6pm and “works” for a few hours should not “earn” 4 times the salary of the skilled cook and 6 to 8 times the salary of a harder working steward that has been slaving away for twice the amount of time.

    I have no respect for entitlement minded waiters and do not see why they deserve to be paid a lawyer or drug dealer’s salary for conveying the product and the effort of skilled workers to a customer. No one goes to a restaurant because they are love the service over the love of the food or the need to simply be fed.

    My rule for tipping plate carriers is to halve the tax, and round down for adequate, non-exceptional service. Double the tax for reasonable to good service and by all means tip more if the service is remarkable or you meet an exceptionally skilled and non-invasive plate carrier or plate carrying brigade.

  • Anonymau5

    I don’t tip because anyone else goes to work and gets paid by their employer to work. I don’t give the mailman money for dropping off my mail and I don’t give my server money for dropping off the food I paid for

  • Just tip and get it over with. Or don’t tip. Who really cares??!!

  • try this on you arrogant nobodies…

    my job got outsourced to india – so I am outsourcing your tip

    screw you – you are not any better than me

    take out a college loan – like I am – if you want to make more money

  • Jody Matheson

    Everytime I read about tipping, I can’t stop thinking about that episode of 3rd Rock when Dick learns about tipping. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVD5wvJ1ru4

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